Fast rolling and perfect as a rear tyre, the Ardent Race is a great option in anything but sticky mud
Designed to bridge the gap between the XC Ikon and the trail-specific Ardent, the Ardent Race is a fast-rolling rear tyre that offers superb grip when cornering and decent stopping bite while braking, especially considering the minimal-sized knobs.
If you haven’t got along with regular Ardents in the past, the Race version is a different beast, and, with the supple, 3C casing version here using three blends of rubber, Maxxis seems to have nailed the perfect formula to roll well yet feel assured on just about everything from rock, roots, and loam to trail-centre kitty litter.
The tread pattern differs crucially from the Ardent by not having off-set shoulder knobs. Cornering traction feels way more predictable and assured with the more continuous trough or ridge between the crown and edge blocks. It’s also a lighter tyre and faster to accelerate.
In the 650b size, there’s decent volume and cushioning without being too balloon-like, and also good puncture resistance when set up tubeless. I’ve also had zero issues with sidewall cuts to the EXO protection casing even on gnarly, rocky trails in the Lakes.
The Ardent Race isn’t end-specific but it’s a great rear tyre, and, with a High Roller II up front, now forms my go-to summer tyre set-up, delivering just about the ultimate performance compromise outside of wintertime slop.
The only downside for this class-leading performance is the £50 price tag, but tyres are so crucial to ride quality that’s it’s worth saving up to get this one on your bike.